Newborn Baby’s Health Affected by Mom’s Thyroid Disorder
As recent as only a few short decades ago, questions emerged as to the relationship between developmental issues in babies and the thyroid disorder hypothyroidism. Researchers in Sweden recently conducted a study that focused on pregnant women with hypothyroidism and the possible effect on their unborn fetus.
According to the findings, the general results show that babies may be born with the thyroid disorder hypothyroidism when the mother is deficient in thyroid hormone. The results of the study are important because the team concluded that treatment for the mother’s thyroid hormone deficiencies within the early stages of pregnancy, before the developing fetus can produce its own supply of thyroid hormone, can limit or even prevent any mental or loco motor impairment that the baby may develop as a result of thyroid hormone deficiency.
Thyroid deficiency – hypothyroidism – effect on the fetus
During the first few months of pregnancy, the fetus relies on the mother for production of thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone plays an important part in the development of normal brain function. According to findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine, babies born to mothers with hypothyroidism during pregnancy had lowered IQ results.
Researchers stress the importance of thyroid tests for pregnant women.
As many as twenty-seven million Americans suffer from undiagnosed thyroid disorders. And nearly half of every fifty women who become pregnant in the U.S. may suffer from the thyroid disorder hypothyroidism. Researchers, therefore, stress the importance of a thyroid test for women who may be considering pregnancy or who are already pregnant.
Thyroid hormone test
The test for thyroid hormone deficiency is an easy and inexpensive blood test. The blood test is conducted in a hospital, doctor’s office or lab where technicians are trained to take blood. Only a small amount of blood is needed and the test is quick to administer. The blood test measures thyroid hormone T4 and TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone).
The test can help identify - and then treat health problems that could endanger both the mother and the baby. Some blood tests are administered routinely for all pregnancies, and others are done if the pregnancy is considered high-risk.
Talk to your doctor
If you think that you may be pregnant or are considering pregnancy, it is recommended that you talk to your doctor for a personalized assessment. Check back here for more thyroid health issues and news.
Researchers Stress Importance of Thyroid Tests for Pregnant Women
Pregnancy is an exciting and happy period in a women's life. It can, however, also be a time when a thyroid condition may become present. Researchers stress the importance of neck examinations for pregnant women so that any thyroid condition can be identified early on. Early detection is critical and many thyroid conditions are easily treated.
The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly shaped gland that produces thyroid hormone in the body. Thyroid hormone affects the body's organs such as the heart, brain, liver and even the skin.
According to researchers, over twenty-seven million Americans have an overactive thyroid (called hyperthyroidism or thyroid storm) or under active thyroid (called hypothyroidism), but unfortunately more than half are undiagnosed. More than eight out of ten patients with thyroid disease are women. And nearly one out of every fifty women who become pregnant in the U.S. is diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
A malfunctioning thyroid can be dangerous to both the mother and the developing fetus, so it is recommended that women that are considering pregnancy or are already pregnant get their thyroid checked.
Thyroid Neck Check
Thyroid neck examinations should be performed by a qualified professional. According to professionals, a thyroid neck check consists of examination of the neck for bulges, protrusions, lumps or anything that appears unusual or out of place. A qualified professional can perform the examination with their hands. A physician will feel the area of the neck and the examination could take only a few minutes. If there is a problem, thyroid blood tests might be ordered.
Thyroid Hormone Tests
Although official recommendations by many professionals say that only women with risk factors should have their thyroid tested, some experts disagree and urge all women of reproductive age be evaluated for thyroid disease.
A simple blood test will enable your doctor to check how well your thyroid gland is producing hormone. Thyroid hormone blood tests include Total thyroxine (T4), Free thyroxine index (FTI or FT4) and Triiodothyronine (T3). A combination of tests may be ordered for your specific situation. Results are usually available from your lab within only a few days. A qualified professional should interpret the test results.
Many medications could affect the thyroid gland test, so check with your doctor prior to the tests for a list of any medications that could affect the results. Be sure to inform your doctor as well as your lab technician of any medications that you are currently taking. For more information about thyroid hormone tests, please visit http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/thyroid-hormone-tests
Do You Need a Thyroid Hormone Test?
Endocrinologists recommend that people with a family history of thyroid conditions, autoimmune disorders, heart failure, people above the age of 60, or pregnant women get tested. For more details about who should get a thyroid hormone test, it is recommended that you ask your health care professional.
Enjoy Your Pregnancy
Pregnancy should be one of the happiest times in a women's life. With help of a qualified medical professional team, women are better equipped to handle the joy and sometime stress of pregnancy.
Thyroid Disorders and Birth Defects: Uncovering the Truth
Although the health impacts of thyroid disorders can be severe and wide-ranging, most thyroid-related illnesses and diseases can be controlled with close medical supervision. For many thyroid patients, the prospect of a long, healthy life is a realistic and achievable dream.
For infants of women with thyroid disorders, though, the outlook is often not so rosy. The thyroid is a key component of the endocrine system, which controls the release and regulation of hormones. During pregnancy, the mother’s endocrine system releases the hormones that control the growth and development of the fetus.
Because women with thyroid disorders often experience significant variances and fluctuations in endocrine system function, their ability to support a normal pregnancy can sometimes be affected. This week, we will take a look at the troubling link between thyroid disorders and birth defects.
The Role of Hormones in Pregnancy
The changes that transform a handful of cells into a fully-formed human infant in the span of just 40 weeks are nothing short of miraculous. In order to ensure that fetal development occurs properly, there are literally thousands of physical mechanisms and processes that must take place, and the chemical compounds known as hormones are responsible for igniting and sustaining many of these processes.
Because the thyroid gland is one of the most important organs in the hormone regulation process, any level of thyroid dysfunction can result in insufficient or excessive release of hormones during pregnancy. In many cases, women with severe thyroid disorders often experience difficulty becoming pregnant, or they may not be able to sustain a pregnancy to full term. However, when women with thyroid disorders do carry a pregnancy to full term, their infants bear an increased risk of certain birth defects, all of which are related to the improper regulation of maternal hormone levels during pregnancy.
Maternal Thyroid Disorders and Birth Defects
Although there are a range of birth defects that have been linked to maternal thyroid disorders, the most serious potential problems are related to neurological deficiencies in the infant. The mother’s thyroid gland plays a particularly important role in guiding the brain development of the growing fetus during pregnancy, and as such, when a thyroid disorder has limited the endocrine system’s ability to function normally, the fetus’ brain development processes can be interrupted.
The most serious outcome of maternal thyroid disease is mental retardation in the infant. In fact, in parts of the developing world in which iodine deficiency is a widespread problem, many women who suffer from severe hypothyroidism as a result give birth to infants with a unique form of mental retardation. Although iodine deficiency is not a chief cause of thyroid disorders in the United States and other developed nations, some mothers with severe hypothyroidism that has remained untreated still give birth to infants with mental retardation and other related types of neurological birth defects.
The link between severe hypothyroidism and the risk of birth defects has long been established. In more recent studies, scientists have attempted to gauge the impact of milder forms of thyroid disorders on pregnancy. Although the difficulties of properly diagnosing, detecting, and treating low-level thyroid disorders have made this course of study challenging, recent investigations have identified a number of risks among women with milder thyroid disorders and their infants.
Problems that have been cited in the research literature include a higher risk of premature delivery, diminished intelligence and IQ in childhood, heart problems, cleft palate, cleft foot, kidney disorders, and nervous system disorders. In one study conducted by scientists at John Hopkins University, it was found that women with mild to severe cases of hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and other forms of thyroid disease had an 18% chance of bearing infants with some form of birth defect or developmental disorder. In the general population, the risk of birth defects is calculated at 3%, so it is clear that the presence of maternal thyroid disorder seems to significantly heighten the risk of birth defects.
Thyroid Prevention and Treatment During Pregnancy
Although these figures can sound daunting, the good news is that advances in medical technology have made the process of treating women with thyroid disorders during pregnancy much more effective in recent years. With constant monitoring throughout pregnancy, there is a very good chance that thyroid hormone fluctuations can be kept within a small range, allowing for proper fetal growth and development. Millions of healthy infants are born each year to women with hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Graves’ disease, thyroid cancer, and other forms of thyroid disease.
If you have a thyroid disorder and are attempting to conceive, work with your endocrinologist, obstetrician, and other physicians to develop a strategic treatment plan before you become pregnant. The earlier you begin monitoring your hormone levels during pregnancy, the better your chances of delivering a healthy infant with no birth defects or developmental problems. Be sure to check back each week for more of the thyroid health news you need.
For Further Reading
New Research Findings Extend the Understanding of Pregnancy-Related Thyroid Risks, Outcomes
It has long been known that women are particularly vulnerable to thyroid disorders during pregnancy, but recent research findings have begun to shed new light on the possible causes and consequences of pregnancy-related thyroid disorders. This week, we’ll review some of the most significant conclusions and groundbreaking discoveries that scientists have made in a series of recent studies analyzing the pregnancy-thyroid connection.
Link Between Pregnancy, Infant Neurolocial Development Probed
Pregnancy is a period of significant hormonal fluctuations for most women. Because the thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system, which regulates the creation and distribution of hormones in the body, the thyroid can often been impacted by the sudden influx of hormones that accompany conception and gestation.
Although the link between proper thyroid function and human growth has been studied for decades, scientists have only recently begun to make significant breakthroughs in unraveling this complex relationship. In recent years, attention has begun to focus on the role thyroid function has upon the development of fetuses during pregnancy.
It has also been found that many more women are impacted by pregnancy-related thyroid disorders than was once thought to be the case. As the diagnostic tests that are used to identify thyroid dysfunction have grown more sophisticated and sensitive, the number of pregnant women diagnosed with thyroid disorders has increased.
One recent study posited that babies born to women who have suffered from pregnancy-related thyroid disorders may experience a series of developmental delays, including diminished cognitive performance. This troubling suggestion has led researchers to delve further into this issue. In fact, researchers are currently recruiting participants to join a study assessing the degree to which treating pregnancy-related thyroid disorders impacts the neurological, cognitive, and intellectual development of infants and children. If this sounds interesting to you, click here to see whether you’re eligible to sign up.
Researchers in England Investigate Impace of Pesticides
Another recent study that sought to assess the implications of pregnancy-related thyroid disorders and their impact on fetal development was conducted by researchers in the UK. In the course of analyzing data for a large-scale longitudinal study, it was found that babies who were conceived during the summer months typically scored lower on academic tests than did their counterparts conceived during non-summer months.
Although the reason behind this disparity has not yet been definitively accounted for, it was hypothesized that low-level thyroid dysfunction could either cause or contribute to the problem. It is suspected that several commonly-used pesticides and nitrate-based fertilizers promote slower thyroid function. Pesticide and fertilizer use often reach their peak in the summer months, when crops are nearing full growth.
At the same time, the most critical phase of fetal brain development occurs soon after conception in the first trimester. Exposure to hazardous elements during this period can cause serious developmental problems.
Taking all of these factors into consideration, the researchers who conducted the study speculated that women who become pregnant during the summer months heightened exposure to pesticides may be at greater risk for developing thyroid problems. Because these children were just conceived, their mothers’ thyroid imbalances during the critical first trimester could account for their lag in academic and intellectual development when compared to peers who were conceived at other times of the year.
The researchers pointed to this possibility to underscore the importance of carefully assessing both the short- and long-term impacts of the substances that are dispersed widely into the environment for farming, manufacturing, and other industrial purposes. They contend that subtle effects such as this may not be readily apparent for decades, and by the time they are discovered, it may be too late to prevent widespread harm.
If you have had past problems with thyroid disorders, or if you have a family history of thyroid diseases, it is very important to consult with your physician during the family planning process. A team of medical professionals that is well-trained in the reproductive implications of endocrine system imbalances will be able to help you plan the healthiest pregnancy possible.
For further reading:
Normal and Abnormal Thyroid Changes During Pregnancy: Origins, Outcomes, and Treatment Options
The nine months that it takes for a human infant to fully develop represent a period of tumultuous physical change for mother and baby alike. Even for women who experience a normal, healthy pregnancy, the sheer scope of the physical transformation that is part of the process can be difficult to cope with. But for some expectant mothers, the hormonal turmoil brought on by pregnancy can actually serve to worsen emergent or existing health problems.
Hormones function as the engine that drive the physical changes and growth processes of pregnancy. In order to fuel the rapid growth of the fetus and initiate the changes in the mother’s body that will allow her to sustain the growing baby and prepare for the challenge of labor and delivery, the body’s production of a number of different types of hormones spikes significantly during pregnancy.
The thyroid is also part of the body’s network of hormone-producing glands that is known as the endocrine system. The delicately-calibrated thyroid gland is designed to respond to even minute shifts in hormone levels. As a result, the massive influx of hormones caused by pregnancy can sometimes cause variations in thyroid function during this time in a woman’s reproductive life. In some cases, a developing pregnancy can foster thyroid dysfunction in expectant mothers.
Normal Changes in Thyroid Function During Pregnancy
Because of the hormonal changes that are an inevitable part of pregnancy, it is common for thyroid function to be impacted in expectant mothers. However, for the majority of women, these changes are not severe enough to cause any noticeable health problems or pregnancy complications.
One of the most commonly cited thyroid changes during pregnancy is a slight enlargement or inflammation of the gland that mimics some of the symptoms of a goiter, which is caused by iodine deficiency. However, in developed nations, most balanced diets offer ready access to iodine, and as such, true pregnancy-related goiters are very rare. In the vast majority of pregnant women, the outcome of this inflammation is a slight, temporary enlargement of the thyroid that is usually undetectable to the naked eye.
A thyroid gland that does not function at the proper rate causes hypothyroidism, which is the medical term for a deficit of thyroid hormones in the body. In some cases, expectant women are diagnosed with a new case of hypothyroidism during pregnancy; in other instances, the high thyroid hormone demands of pregnancy can worsen an existing, diagnosed, or marginal case of hypothyroidism.
If a pregnant woman’s hypothyroidism goes untreated, it can have a dire impact upon the health and development of the fetus. The thyroid hormone is largely responsible for propelling neurological and physical growth, and if maternal levels of the hormone are insufficient, especially during the first trimester, the infant may suffer cognitive and physical problems as a result.
However, if the disorder is diagnosed before or during pregnancy, it can be easily remedied with a drug regimen of replacement hormones. These compounds are safe to take during pregnancy, and the dose can be adjusted to best fit the needs of each patient.
Much more common -- and more serious -- is the threat of hyperthyroidism during pregnancy. This disorder prompts the thyroid gland to function at a heightened pace, producing an excess of thyroid hormone in the system that essentially speeds up many of the bodily processes. In pregnant women, it can also cause early labor, pre-eclampsia, as well as being linked to an array of birth defects in developing fetuses.
By far the most common cause of hyperthyroidism in pregnant women is Grave’s disease, which effects as many as 1 in every 1500 expectant mothers. Women who have elevated levels of the hCG hormone, which is often linked to severe morning sickness, may experience episodes of hyperthyroidism. Also, existing cases of hyperthyroidism may be worsened by pregnancy hormones, causing them to be diagnosed for the first time, although they may have existed undetected for years prior to the pregnancy.
Compared to hypothyroidism, the diagnosis and treatment of hyperthyroidism in pregnant women can be somewhat difficult. Based on the severity of the case and the patient’s medical history, doctors usually devise personalized treatment plans that fit the needs of each expectant mother. In milder cases, monitoring the situation with frequent tests may prove to be sufficient. Drug treatment may be indicated in doses small enough to avoid harm to the fetus. In severe cases, surgical removal of the thyroid may be necessary.
Starting a Family? Be Mindful of Thyroid Health Issues
If you have a past history of thyroid problems, or if relatives have been diagnosed with thyroid disease, these issues should factor into the family planning process. Experts say it is best for women to have their thyroid conditions diagnosed and well-treated before becoming pregnant to ensure the best possible outcome for the baby. Whether you are pregnant now or are just beginning to consider parenthood, you can talk to your doctor about the possibility that pregnancy-related thyroid issues may pose a problem for you.
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